As the world leading event on ITS solutions, this year, the 5 days long ITS World Congress took place in Hamburg, Germany. More than 400 exhibitors were present and each day offered a diverse selection of talks and presentations, technical visits and demonstrations and even workshops related to different areas of smart mobility.
Did you miss it? Or were you there but tied to your stand and only managed to grasp a fraction of what was going on? Or maybe you are contemplating if you should go to next year’s congress in Los Angeles, U.S.? Then keep reading for a daily nugget in a mini-series of all that you missed.
A quick glance at the program reveals the ever-present focus of the effects of transport and logistics on the environment. But the angels are new and there is an elevated sense of emergency in the discussions. And it is an undisputed fact that COVID has completely turned the status quo of mobility, on its end. As a result, we are facing accelerated and highlighted needs for new and more flexible solutions to get people and goods from A to B in a sustainable fashion.
The high-level conference programme with speakers from Asia Pacific, Europe and the Americas discussed around six key themes; Automated and connected driving, Mobility as a service(MaaS), Intelligent infrastructure, Goods journey from ports to customers, New services from new technologies, and Solutions from cities and citizens.
As the panels and presenters displayed such variety of countries and cities of varying sizes and needs, and not least – cultures, it became very clear that solutions that works in one place can create more problems in another. Such as on the topic of traffic congestion. Known by many, hated by all, congestions is a hot potato on the individual, collective and political level. Or as Sameer Sharma from Intel, US pointed out; “The only good thing about congestion is that it tells us that people still want or need to see each other in person.”
The panellists in one of the sessions witnessed that as countries are coming out of the lockdown it is already apparent that congestions levels are up and expected to get worse once all restrictions are gone as people don’t want to use public transport anymore, due to the fear of infection.
To even out and orchestrate traffic flow is addressed by a wide variety of ITS-solutions. From traffic lights that automatically adapt traffic flow to shared mobility services to incentives a shift away from private cars to more sustainable solutions. But despite its capabilities to solve or ease the problem, smart traffic management still face a lot of roadblocks in its way. The barriers and potential solutions were widely discussed by the panelists; such as the need for a solid level of digitization, better, safer and more accessible data. Many agreed with the views expressed by Marcus Anders from SWARCO Traffic Systems in Germany; “We are still in the research state as we don’t have a common guideline or standards. We need clear political coherence, more guidelines, a framework, and funding, in order to get scalable solutions.”